Water Only the Areas That Need It

Brad Wier

The first days of full scorch are here. Before you turn up your sprinkler systems — and double your water bill — consider what areas of your landscape actually need water.

Want to double your water bill? If you turned up your sprinklers, you just did.

The first days of full scorch are here. Scorching sun in cloudless skies, high temperatures and blades of limp grass on the lawn when arriving home from work. Many homeowners greet this sight with the same solution: adding an evening cycle to the usual morning sprinkler system schedule.

It’s no wonder water consumption in San Antonio steeply increases at this time of year. Instead of just running in the morning, the sprinkler system is now running in the evening, too, and throughout the landscape — not just in areas that need it, like the scorching west-facing lawn, but in shaded areas and landscape beds that don’t.

Running the entire system twice uses twice as much water. And, once the sprinklers are set to run twice a day, they may continue to do so for the rest of the year — not just in July and August, but in September, October, November and December too. The steep increase in consumption invariably leads to a wave of high bills, a great source of revenue for SAWS, but a completely unnecessary one.

Two suggestions:

  • Don’t use a second start time to run the entire program cycle twice. Instead, identify your critical turf zones – the ones facing west in the afternoon. By the laws of geometry, this can’t be more than 50 percent of the landscape, and in many cases it’s much less. Critical zones can either be run manually (the best option) or, potentially, on a “B” program.
  • If you use a second start time or a “B” program, remember to remove or deactivate it after August. There’s never a need to water twice a day after August, but typically these extra cycles will remain on the program for an indefinite period of time, leading to high water bills and water waste for the rest of the year, and often in spring as well, until the homeowner gets the first spring sprinkler bill and realizes the error.

If you need help identifying critical zones or setting your irrigation system controller, SAWS offers free irrigation consultations. To schedule an appointment, email us or call 704-SAVE.

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